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Controller Credited With Guiding Plane To Safety

December 30, 1986

WHEELING, Ill. (AP) _ An air traffic controller is being credited with helping a single-engine plane through fog to a safe landing after the plane’s guidance controls failed.

The pilot, Wayne Giles of West Bloomfield, Mich., and three passengers escaped injury Monday as the plane returned to Pal-Waukee Airport minutes after takeoff.

It skidded off the runway and hit a guardrail, blocking three lanes on two busy roads until it was towed about two hours later.

Dan Darwish, a spokesman at the airport, declined to identify the controller, who guided the plane to safety from O’Hare International Airport, about 10 miles from Pal-Waukee.

″That fellow in Chicago did an excellent job,″ said Giles.

Giles said the engine stalled twice while he tried to return to the airport with failed instruments. He thought he was flying in a straight line, he said, but found out he had been flying in a circle.

″Four people were saved by this air traffic controller,″ said Mort Edelstein, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

″At times I was nervous and at times I was trying to stay calm,″ Giles said. ″I wanted to do the best I could and give it everything I had.″

Giles’ passengers had flown to Chicago to visit the ″weeping Madonna″ icon at the Saint Nicholas Albanian Orthodox Church in Chicago, where passenger Edna Mitchell said a priest blessed her handicapped son with a ″tear″ from the icon.

″We looked for another miracle and got this miracle,″ said Mrs. Mitchell of Bloomfield Hills, Mich. ″God was watching us. He brought us back alive.″